books, journey, marriage

Fifty Shades of Truth…

Oh man… 
This right here is a controversial can of worms on so many levels… 
Hopefully, if you have come across this blog post you will be able to read/hear my actual words and hold off on judgement. If not, than I hope you will be able to at least hold your tongue. 
Because, despite what some groups of people/bloggers are declaring across the internet- there are some truths about the Fifty Shades of Grey series that many uninformed are turning the other cheek to. 
Before I continue, I need to state that yes, i AM A CHRISTIAN. I am not ashamed of this. More than anything in the world, I freaking LOVE Jesus. 
And I read all three of these books. 
And no, I am not ashamed. 
So, whether you agree with my insight or not, I needed to spotlight that I am coming at this from the perspective of a 36 year old, happily married mom, and a Christian. 
We good? Ok… 
Whenever anyone learns I read these books, the first whispered quearion I get is “are they really that good?” Well, to that I say: Define good
These books are not the best written books on the market, but they really don’t need to be. 
The second thing I say is: They are not porn. 
There is a popular “gift book” series called Porn for Women. These cute little photo books feature attractive, shirtless men doing household chores. Their intent is funny… Funny because, though it is not often the case, a great deal of women are not visually stimulated by the idea of porn, like men are. The idea is that while a man may be attractive, it is him doing the dishes that is the actual turn on. They say a woman only need stand there and a man can have sex with her in his mind. There is a difference… 
While the 50 shades series does have some graphically depicted sex, I do not believe this is why they are so popular. I believe they are popular because they rip down a barrier and talk about things that women have been taught not to worry about. 
Don’t take my word for it though, do a little research. 
Since the E.L. James series began to spike in popularity, marriage counselors across the country have indicated a rise in couples wanting to spice up and save their marriages. Many of those counselors have publicly noted the positive impact that the books are having, primarily with women, and their response/change of heart regarding sex. 
This is huge. 
Speaking from a Christian standpoint recently, it has only been within the last 10 (or so) years that Christian authors have begun really pointing out that husband’s need sex and wives need to be better about meeting that need. I just read a book entitled Sacred Influence, which is a Christian perspective book, for wives, and in it- the author encourages women to be willing to get creative sexually with her husband. In an oppressed mindset though, what does that even mean? It’s a generalization like “dress more stylish.” Without an idea of what that could mean- it’s a fairly overwhelming idea. There is so much more to say about a lot of this, but my point is, non-fiction religious marriage books have been saying and saying this, but suddenly a bunch of house wives secretly read these poorly written twilight fan-fiction books and suddenly they wake up and are willing to listen because all of a sudden they “get it”. Like some form of a parable. 
Also, the desire to have sex WITH THEIR HUSBANDS (which is the opposite affect the standard romance novel has, as they lead women to find further disappointment in their husbands) has skyrocketed. 
How exactly is this is a bad thing? 
Back to the research… 
When the movie The Notebook was released, the conventional marriage saw quite the opposite effect. While, at the surface, it seems you have a beautiful love story about an elderly couple and their devoted life to one another- instead what you had was a movie inspiring unfullfilled women all over the country suddenly questioning where their first love was, and thanks to (then) myspace, (and now facebook) it was all too easy to rekindle that connection. Affairs were happening and women were abandoning their marriages in search of their own Noahs. 
How exactly was this a good thing? 
AND YET… A good deal of women will happily admit to loving the Notebook while also exclaiming, with disgust, that they would never read Fifty Shades of Grey
I think, all too often, someone (with good intentions) gets word of something trending (in this instance a piece of incredibly popular erotic fiction) and they try to use their voice to spare others before something awful happens. What ensues though, is often ignorant judgement. Why ignorant? Because your opinion on the subject is based on here say, and fear… 
So here’s how it is for me: 
– I DO NOT read erotic fiction. 
– I was sexually abused. 
– as a result, I tend to not really feel comfortable with sexual content in ANY platform of entertainment. 
– I do not read romance books either. I find them shallow and unrealistic. (to point out, the statistics of romance novel readers are more often unhappy housewives who purposefully keep a barrier between themselves and the disappointment husbands.)
– I love the Twilight books. 
– a girlfriend told me about the fan fiction site where EL James began, years ago. I read bits of it, but wasn’t impressed. 
– a different girlfriend told me, this spring, about the Grey books. She encouraged me to read the first one. I was beyond skeptical. 
– I read the series in one week. 
Why? 
– I found the main male character fascinating. Having been sexually abused, (and going on to work with and parent kids with similar backgrounds) I found the nature behind his own childhood sexual abuse to be fascinating, as well as how it affected him clear into adulthood. 
– Sex is very seldom healthily talked about. In marriages. With children. This also pertains to sexual abuse, sadly. 
– I believe the result of such hushed topics is shame in the survivors, further patterns of abuse (self seeking and in cyclic generational abuse) and the continued focus of an oversexed society where girls continue to grow up feeling less worthy and boys continue to grow up respecting women less. 
– As the story progressed I realized that so much of the “sex” in the book could be metaphorical for any type of self preservation we build around ourselves to keep from being vulnerable. 
– I saw, in the character, a significant attachment disorder. Again, being something I deal with on a regular basis- this fascinated me. 
– beyond the poor writing, there was a story here that more than touched me- it healed me. 
– when it is all said and done, the story is that of a marriage. It is about a man and woman who, beyond all circumstance, learn to love and trust each other unconditionally- even when it costs them personally. It is about putting the needs of your spouse above your own always, and it addresses these issues in raw ways and making the core of their relationship one about commitment over “feeling”… 
How? 
– I was sexually abused. Following the years of this, I was sent to live in a fairly oppressive environment. Sex was bad. 
– When, at 17, I had sex- I just knew it was wrong. 
– even after i was married, and for years to follow, there were significant struggles with shame, remorse and guilt that would cycle through my mind and heart when it came to sex. It was an ugly, ugly pattern. 
– In a very in your face, and raw way- these books made me think about sex. 
– NO, not like that
– they made me ask myself “what is so bad about wanting to have sex with your husband? Why is that wrong?” 
– It made me realize that it wasn’t bad to enjoy sex with my husband. It forced me to confront that this was not a bad thing. That I was not bad. 
– if you haven’t been in this position, I am so happy for you. to live with such guilt and pressure is suffocating. 
– My husband and I sat down and had the rawest conversation about sex and it was amazing the misconceptions and insecurities that had dangled, unspoken, for so many years. 
Also- 
– I have several friends who have read it. I have two friends (nameless unless they say otherwise) who believe their marriages were saved because of the realities the books helped them face re: their own thought errors.
Here’s the thing… If you don’t feel comfortable reading the books- don’t read them. If you aren’t interested- don’t read them.  If you feel convicted re: their content- don’t read them. They are crass, some people have issues with that… They just aren’t books for anyone. 
But please stop judging the women who do read them because someone told you they are mommy-porn. If you read them and decide you feel they ARE Mommy porn, then by all means verbalize your opinion. But don’t spread ignorance because “Someone said…”  I don’t regret reading them and this IS something I have prayed about and I feel pretty clear. This isn’t a justification or an excuse. Others will have different stories, and that’s ok. This is mine… Reading these books metaphorically helped me see things that years of therapy and marriage had never helped me see and I am better for that. 
No person on this planet has a right to judge that. 
So there you go… 
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5 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Truth…”

  1. Ok, I have nothing to say except the urge to tell you a funny story. Of course, I've heard plenty about these books and a lot of people buy my book, Shadows Gray, accidentally and then return it, probably thinking, "what the heck? Where's all the sex?!" But all that aside. I don't mind sex in a book. I'm not so super conservative that I'll freak out and panic if there's a sex scene. Outlander is my favorite book. That being said, I did read some well written articles about why christian woman shouldn't read these and the whole bondage/whatever thing isn't my cup of tea. At all. Anyhoo. The curiousity was getting the best of me a few nights ago. I was bored. Snuggled in bed with my kindle while my husband played xbox in the other room. Scrolling through books. Of course it pops up, wanting me to buy it, cuz it's like the most popular book ever written. Hmm, I think. I wonder what all the fuss is about. I guess I could just get the free sample. So, I did. I read it (thought it was unbelievably dull and badly written, but that's neither here nor there). Disappointed, I suddenly realize I don't know how to get it off my kindle. I've never taken anything off it before! I don't want anyone to know I've been reading this! My kids play Draw Something on this thing! My hubby occasionally looks through it! Agh! The whole world will know I'm reading porn! I'm frantically searching through my user's manual. No help. I go online. My computer freezes. I'm trying to do all this before someone walks into my bedroom. Why? I dunno! My conscience is guilty, that's why! Even my kindle freezes on a screen. I want to die. I'm so embarrassed to have done this. I eventually have to google search. Oh look, you just press on the title a little longer than normal and voila, you have the opportunity to delete it. Whew. Exhausting night. I tumbled into bed so happily. And NOT cuz I was all hot and bothered.Ok, longest comment ever. Sorry. That's my two cents about 50 Shades. Don't tell.

  2. I am dying to know how many hate emails you get over this :) I haven't read the books.I HAVE heard many self-righteous opinions from Christians telling me that I shouldn't. I'm very glad to hear a Christian opinion from someone who thinks they are OK.It's always good to hear both sides. I don't really have a desire to read them, but I'm not saying I WILL NEVER…So, out of curiosity…what are your thoughts on Magic Mike?AND Hey Melyssa! I did buy your book for my Nook. I really enjoyed it and am eagerly waiting for the next one! I found it because I'm friends with Misty on Goodreads and somehow came across it there.

  3. Ok…Jenni, I honestly hated that movie. Being a former critic though, it's kind of hard to find a movie I don't nit-pick. That movie, I felt, had no plot at all and while it spent the whole movie trying to develop some form of empathy, from the audience, for Mike- I thought the first 15 min. made him look like a self absorbed jerk. There were awesome cinematography shots but that was it. Completely shallow film, pretending it was something so much more than it was. I didn't find it at all porn like, in fact I felt like the stripping scenes were far more cheesy than anything. The first few opening scenes were easily the most offensive. In re: to articles- I have read many articles from well meaning Christians who had every right to warn people about the books contents, but to act self righteous about the content- when they have no personal idea what the content actually is- only paints them as judgmental bigots. It's no worse than most movies out… The language is on the extreme side BUT I think that really portrays the cold/harshness of the characters psychological/emotional state.

  4. Wonderful post! I am a Christian, and I'll be honest…at first when I heard about the books, I said, "Never!". Curiousity got the better of me though after hearing another friend was reading it. I read all three on my Kindle in a week and enjoyed all of them. As for the sex scenes, after a while I started to skim. I thought enjoyed more of what you stated, the dynamics between the two learning to love each other completely and without reservation. I'm not a Twilight fan, and most likely never will be. Unlike vampires, which I consider demonic, sex was and is created by God for a husband an wife to enjoy together. If these books kindle that desire in a wife for her husband, then I choose to believe that's a wonderful thing! For the ones concerned that their children will see them on their Kindles, read them and delete them from your library. I have a 12 year old that reads on my Kindles and I would definitely not want either of my girls reading these at this point in their lives. I simply read them and then removed them from my library. Their not something I'd read again, so there was little pain in doing that. Again, excellent post!

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